To the Editor:
Whenever change is proposed, people react.
Many of us are reacting with joy that an expansion of our community’s pathway system is on the horizon. We will be able to walk or roll for miles, comfortably side-by-side with our friends, with our dogs, with our kids or our grandparents, on a pathway designed to accommodate bikes, strollers and wheelchairs – an advantage our existing sidewalks do not provide. The standard 3-foot sidewalk barely allows two people to walk side by side. Sidewalks are missing or in poor repair in many areas of town, or are blocked by trash cans or parked cars. The lack of curb cuts makes it difficult if not impossible for many of us to travel on our community’s sidewalks. With an expanded pathway, we will be able to walk or roll comfortably to businesses, schools, and the hospital – an advantage the existing pathway along the river currently does not provide.
Some people are reacting with concern about the unknown. They have the same concerns raised by people who lived in other cities where new pathways were built. These concerns are so common, a significant body of research exists to provide reassurance. Studies show that pathways have a significant positive impact on the communities they pass through. Pathways increase property values, reduce crime, and increase quality of life by providing exercise and recreation opportunities, transportation choices and a sense of community. Real estate statistics show that a home located on a pathway sells for 5-11% more than a comparable home without pathway access. Crime rates are lower on pathway networks than the overall crime rate for the region in which the pathways are located – a finding that applies across urban, suburban, and rural settings. A report on biking and walking trails in small and rural towns highlights a paradigm shift taking place in the United States: pathways are no longer an amenity – they are now considered essential infrastructure for business recruitment.
With this pathway expansion, Scottsbluff has a chance to move forward to a brighter future.